Poetry Writing Ideas and Activities

poetry writing ideas

Try something new with these poetry writing ideas and activities.

A poem can come out of nowhere and land on the page, fully formed, in just a few minutes. A poem can also be the result of hours (or weeks) of laboring over line breaks, word choices, images, and rhythm.

Poems are funny little things, appearing out of nowhere and disappearing for no apparent reason. Poets have to be diligent: be prepared when a poem arrives, and if it doesn’t, go out and chase it down.

There are many ways to write a poem, and not all of them involve sitting at a desk staring at a glaring screen or curled up in a chair with a pen and a notebook. Instead of waiting for poems to fall out of the sky, try some of these poetry writing ideas and activities.  Read more

Poetry: Rhythm and Meter

rhythm and meter in poetry

Does your poetry have rhythm and meter?

Rhythm is everywhere: we hear it in the hum of vehicles and appliances. We feel it when we walk or run. We see it in the very rising and setting of the sun. Even our hearts beat to a rhythm. Rhythm is built into the way we experience and perceive the world.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary offers several definitions for rhythm:

  • an ordered recurrent alternation of strong and weak elements in the flow of sound and silence in speech
  • the aspect of music comprising all the elements (such as accent, meter, and tempo) that relate to forward movement
  • movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements 

Poetry encapsulates all of these definitions of rhythm. But what about meter?  Read more

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Haiku

101 creative writing exercises - haiku

Haiku, from 101 Creative Writing Exercises.

Today’s writing exercise comes from my book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises, which takes writers on an exciting journey through different forms and genres while providing writing techniques, practical experience, and inspiration.

Each chapter focuses on a different form or writing concept: freewriting, journaling, memoirs, fiction, storytelling, form poetry, free verse, characters, dialogue, creativity, and article and blog writing are all covered.

Today, we’ll take a peek at “Chapter 7: Form Poetry” with a poetry exercise simply called “Haiku.” Enjoy!  Read more

Poetry Prompts for Ranting and Raving

poetry prompts

Get loud with these poetry prompts.

It’s easy to think of poetry as soft, flowery, and convoluted. It’s the stuff of Shakespeare, greeting cards, and children’s books. It’s precious, sweet, and erudite.

But some of the most exciting modern poetry defies all those stereotypes, and you need look no further than the slam poetry and spoken word communities to see how poetry can be infused with rage, passion, and humor.

These poets have mastered the art of ranting and raving with passion via performance poetry. It’s no wonder that during live recordings of some of their most impassioned poems, the crowd can be heard hooting and hollering.

Today’s poetry prompts encourage you to write a poem that unleashes your passion. Read more

How to Construe and Convey Tone in Poetry

tone in poetry

Are you paying attention to tone in poetry?

In literature, tone is the mood, attitude, or emotional sensibility of a written work. In poetry, tone expresses the narrator’s disposition toward the poem’s subject, the reader, or the narrative itself.

We might describe a poem’s tone as irreverent, relaxed, sarcastic, solemn, jubilant, or desperate. Tone can be any emotion or state of mind, and a single poem can include a combination of tones.

When we’re speaking, our tone is expressed through inflection. We use pitch and stress to communicate the attitude behind the words we’re saying. If I say, “Get out of here!” the tone of my voice will let you know whether I’m literally telling you to leave the room or whether I’m figuratively saying, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In writing, we must approach tone with care, because it is often and easily misinterpreted. For example, sarcasm is commonly misread in text messaging and on social media. Someone types a sarcastic statement in jest, but the recipient takes it literally and may get offended or confused. Some people mark sarcastic remarks with <sarcasm> to ensure clarity for this reason.

If communicating tone is so difficult, how can we interpret and communicate it effectively in poetry? Read more

Poetry Prompts for Fall

poetry prompts

Poetry prompts celebrating the fall season.

It seems like summer always passes too quickly and winter lasts too long. Maybe that’s why fall is a favorite season for so many people. It seems to hang around just long enough. It’s not too hot, not too cold. A mild, colorful, and comfortable season.

Every fall, my creativity goes into overdrive, and I doubt this year will be any different. I’m not sure what it is about all the rusty and golden hues that fills me with inspiration, but I’m always grateful when the leaves start to turn because I know that my imagination is about get fired up.

It’s the perfect time of year to write a little poetry. The seasons have been inspiring poets for millennia, and it’s up to us modern-day writers to keep the tradition alive. The poetry prompts below are a great way to get started. Read more

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Couplets and Quatrains

Couplets and quatrains

Couplets and quatrains, a poetry writing exercise.

Today’s writing exercise comes from 101 Creative Writing Exercises, which takes writers on an adventure through different forms and genres while offering tools, techniques, and inspiration for writing.

Each chapter focuses on a different form or writing concept: freewriting, journaling, memoirs, fiction, storytelling, form poetry, free verse, characters, dialogue, creativity, and article and blog writing are all covered.

Today, we’ll take a peek at “Chapter 7: Form Poetry” with a poetry exercise called “Couplets and Quatrains.” Enjoy! Read more

Seasonal Poetry Prompts for Spring and Summer

poetry prompts

Poetry prompts for spring and summertime.

Poets have a long tradition of honoring the seasons by writing odes. Poetry celebrates spring and summer for bringing renewal to the land and warmth to our lives.

Rebirth is a common theme in poetry, so the spring season, with its fresh skies and new shoots, is a rejuvenating source of inspiration.

Summer is packed with sights, smells, and sounds: splashing water and fresh lemonade; hot dogs from the fair; and bike rides on the beach.

All of these things, and many more, find their way into poetry that pays tribute to the seasons that we enjoy during the warmer half of the year: spring and summer. Read more

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Rock and Rhyme (Poetry)

101 creative writing exercises - Rock and Rhyme

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Rock and Rhyme Poetry.

Today’s post features an exercise from my book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises, which is filled with exercises for various forms of writing, including fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. It will inspire you while imparting useful writing techniques that are fun and practical.

This exercise comes from “Chapter 8: Free Verse.” The creative writing exercises in this chapter focus on free-form poetry writing.

I chose this exercise because it’s playful and inspiring. It asks you to use a song as a foundation for writing a poem. Many song lyrics are poems in their own right. This exercise focuses on rhyming, but it also shows you how to look at your writing’s musicality and encourages you to think about rhythm and meter in your work. Read more

A Selection of Poetry Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

poetry prompts

Poetry Prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts.

Today’s poetry prompts come from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which is jam-packed with ideas and inspiration for writers and includes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction writing prompts.

Some of the poetry prompts in the book ask you to use a list of specific words in a poem. Some give you a topic to write about. Some ask you to draw on your life experience. Some give you images to use as inspiration for a poem.

All of the prompts are designed to spark ideas and inspire you to write. And you don’t have to use the prompts to write poems. Use a prompt to write an essay or a blog post. If you get a prompt that contains a list of words but one of the words isn’t working in your poem, delete it from the list. If one of the images gives you an idea for a story, write a story. Use the prompts in whatever way you see fit. Read more